What is dry needling?
Dry needling is an evidence-based intervention utilized for the treatment of pain and dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system. It is performed by physical therapists, or other qualified professionals, using a filiform needle, which is inserted into the skin to target trigger points within a muscle. Other structures that may be targeted include tendons, ligaments, bones, transitions between muscles and tendons, transitions between tendons and bones, and around nerve pathways in the body.
Why use dry needling?
Dry needling is used to reduce pain or to restore normal tissue function. It achieves this by stimulating receptors in these tissues and areas of the brain which are responsible for reducing pain and tension in the body.
Dry needling is especially useful in patients with chronic pain or those who have failed traditional physical therapy, which may have included manipulation or massage variations.
What does it feel like?
Patients may experience a deep cramping sensation or deep dull ache depending on the tissue being needled. Typically, if the needle is left in place, the cramping sensation decreases. Often times, a muscle may contract then relax (“twitch”) when the needle is inserted into a trigger point, which is the desired effect.
Dry needling may be administered with many different methods. It can be performed in both aggressive and non-aggressive techniques, as well as close to the surface of the skin or within deeper tissues. The technique utilized is determined by the history of the patient, the structure to be needled, and the desired response.
Common conditions treated with dry needling include: